Liquor store generates $300K for general fund

By Rachel Kytonen

Northbound Liquor, the municipal liquor store for the city of Cambridge, has contributed over $300,000  per year to the city’s general fund the past three years.

During the Cambridge City Council meeting Monday, March 5, Northbound Liquor Manager Terry Baar gave an update regarding the liquor store.

Baar explained Northbound Liquor has served as the municipal liquor store since 1968. The store moved to its current location on east Hwy. 95 in 1993 and expanded the size of the store in 2007 from 6,000 to 10,000 square feet.

The expansion cost $968,000, which was $232,000 under budget. Baar noted the expansion was paid off this year, which was three years early.

City Administrator Lynda Woulfe explained in lieu of taxes, liquor store profits are transferred to the city’s general fund, reducing the general fund levy.

In 2010, $300,000 was transferred to the general fund; $2011, $315,000; 2012, $330,000 and $350,000 is budgeted for 2013.

Woulfe explained to generate the same amount in taxes, another 302 homes valued at $135,000 would need to be built or the city’s tax rate would have to increase. Also, if the transfer to the general fund didn’t happen, Walmart’s taxes would increase by $10,896; Target’s would increase by $7,292; and the per median home’s taxes would increase by $72.35.

Gross sales for Northbound Liquor were $4,174,750 in 2010 and $4,351,092 in 2011. Baar noted the Hwy. 95 road construction project in 2010 inhibited sales. He also mentioned in the current economy customers are trading down and buying less expensive beer, liquor and wine.

Northbound Liquor features over 1,400 wines, with wine sales increasing to 16 percent of total sales. The store also has over 800 different beers, and 1,100 liquors.

The store has three full time personnel, and 16 part time personnel. Baar noted Assistant Manager Bobbi Mix has won first, second, third and fourth place in several state contests, as well as two national display contests, for her creative wine displays.

Baar’s beer displays have also been featured in every major beer magazine for beer of the month displays.

Woulfe also noted since the liquor store is a municipal liquor store, it focuses on controlling youth access to alcohol, and staff participates in annual training. The store has also passed all its compliance checks.

“You guys have been filling a great spot out there and we hope you continue to work with us for many years,” said Council Member Dave Schornstein.

SunOpta update

Scott Gordon, CEO and president of Ingredients Group, a division of SunOpta, gave an update to the council.

SunOpta Ingredients Group, which has a processing facility located in Cambridge, focuses on transforming a variety of natural and sustainable grain and plant-based raw materials into value-added food ingredients. It specializes in technical processing with a focus on non-GMO, natural, functional and organic offerings.

Gordon explained despite the economic challenges SunOpta has faced in 2011, it has not had to reduce any staff at the Cambridge facility. The Cambridge facility employs 48 full time employees, as well as 10 other employees.

Gordon explained in the past five years, SunOpta has invested over $1 million in measures to reduce the noise, odor and dust concerns that have been brought up over the years by residents.

“An open approach, with solid communication, has lead to improvements,” Gordon said. “We remain focused on being a good neighbor in Cambridge, but there will be occasional interruptions in our focus due to the nature of the business.”

Gordon also introduced John Nelson, who has recently been named vice president of operations. Nelson explained he is looking forward to moving to the area, and having a good working relationship with the city council and city staff.

Council Member Bob Shogren feels the concerns with noise, odor and dust have been dealt with.

“I think you guys are doing a great job,” Shogren said. “As far as I’m concerned, this issue is closed.”

Mayor Marlys Palmer said she looks forward to a continued working relationship with SunOpta.

“I thank you for everything you have done and the cooperative spirit you have had with working out the issues,” Mayor Palmer said. “I still think there are a few issues out there, but I feel direct contact and communication is the way to handle that.”

Policy Manual for CPD

Sergeant Shawn Machin with the Cambridge Police Department presented the Lexipol Policy Manual.

Sgt. Machin explained Lexipol develops policy manuals for public safety agencies and departments. The policy manual is a statement of the current policies, procedures, rules and guidelines of the department.

Sgt. Machin explained the current draft underwent extensive review and numerous changes to make it more specific for the Cambridge Police Department.

The initial revisions to the manual included comparison with city policies and the LELS contract so that there would not be conflicting language with either of those documents.

He said comparison was also made to the sheriff’s office policies to ensure that procedures are compatible in areas applicable to both agencies (such as some dispatch functions, etc.).

Other revisions included removal of sections already covered by city policies, and comparison with the most widely accepted best practices for law enforcement through IACP ( International Chiefs of Police Association).

Sgt. Machin said once the initial draft was completed it was reviewed by himself, Woulfe and Sgt. Todd Schuster.

He said the document will be subject to change.

“This is a living document,” Sgt. Machin said. “As court cases come up or things change with human resources, this document will change. Personally, I’m very excited about this document and I think it’s great for the city. I think it serves our department well and it will ensure we are serving the city to the best of our ability.”

In other action the council:

Approved the LELS Union, IBEW Water-Wastewater and IBEW Maintenance contracts for Jan. 1, 2012 through Dec. 31, 2013. Woulfe explained there is no cost of living increase for 2012 and a one percent cost of living increase for 2013.

• Approved the EDA Code of Conduct and Bylaws.

• Approved plans and specifications for the 2012 street improvement project and authorized the advertisement of bids.

• Approved Tom Schibilla as an on-call, temporary employee for the Armed Forces Reserve and Community Center Maintenance Technician position at $24.56 per hour.